The Nurture Assumption
The Nurture Assumption
I have always held the belief that Nature v Nurture is not a zero-sum game. To steal a line from T. S. Elliot’s The Hollow Men, I believe humans are born into this world a “shape without form. ” That shape, of course, is our nature; the sum of our genetic make-up and natural tendencies based on some combination of predisposition and innate sense of self. The form, then, necessarily reflects our experiences and the way those have restructured our ‘self. ’ The nurture of our mind, particularly at a young age, is instrumental in providing depth and context to our natural shape.
Both aspects of our ‘self’ are complimentary. Just like we are unable to understand shape without the context of form, we are similarly unable to understand humans without an understanding in the dynamic of both nature and nurture expressed through our behavior, desires, and interactions. Raising a virtual child did not change my initial thoughts on the collaborative importance of nature vs. nurture. However, I was curious to see what my child, Chase, would be like at 18, and so I answered each question thoughtfully based on what would be best for him.
The feedback about Chase provided substantial evidence to backup my nature vs. nurture belief. The influence of nature on Chase’s development was evident in several life stages throughout the program. To begin, the assessments in Chase’s life revealed above average performances in multiple subject areas. This advanced state in development is a common result of a psychological perspective called the Core Knowledge Perspective. This states that infants are born with innate special purpose knowledge systems, which results in rapid early development.
In the virtual child program, Chase was, “advanced in his gross and fine motor skills and seemed to have little goals that involved two steps of planning ahead. ” On the flip side, after the positive feedback in specific areas, nurture highly influenced additional development in those areas. By choosing answers like, “encourage Chase to point to toys that are out of reach so you can get them for him, and encourage Chase to keep trying when there is an obstacle you know he can overcome”, his development is influenced by my decisions and nurturing.
Chase was also above average in the language development area. Multiple early childhood development specialist assessed Chase and they determined that he was at a higher level in language development than his fellow peers. Some of their notes included statements like, “Chase’s language skills are developing rapidly” and “he scored in the above average range on tests of language comprehension and production, and provided unusually complete and grammatically mature sentences “he seems to know an unusual number of names for things.
” Chase’s language development can be characterized by a psychological study called, Multiple Theories of Language Development. The combination of the Interactionist Theory and Behaviorist Theory combine the following influences on language development: inner capacities, the environment, and social context. Therefore, I can conclude that Chase’s advanced language development is a result of influences from both, nature (inner capacities), and nurture (environmental & social). Chase showed signs of attachment to me and I immediately began several intervention strategies in order to prevent a serious attachment issue in the future.
Attachment is an innate survival mechanism and is a system used to control things such as proximately, security, and emotional regulation. Thus it is obvious that attachment is determined through nature. However, studies have shown that children subject to feelings of attachment often have long term effects on behavioral characteristics like personality and communication. Chase was showing signs of attachment by reacting negatively in situations of separation. He was “hesitant to part with…” both, my “partner” and I, and he “started crying” immediately after the handover at the daycare.
Moreover, this behavior is linked to the sensitivity and responsiveness of the mother/caregiver and is collinear to the influence of nurture. Lastly, Chase had a “larger than life” personality; he was very outgoing, and had a natural curiosity about him. His personality was influenced by the mutualistic relationship between nature and nurture. A specific focus on the science behind Chase’s temperament revealed a foundation of nature. The genetic contributors can be described as the “Biological Basis for Temperament.
” Chase is characterized as uninhibited and outgoing, which is determined by obtaining qualities such as: positive reactions and approach to new stimuli, low heart rates, stress hormones and symptoms, and higher left hemisphere frontal cortex activity. In addition, temperament is also influenced by nurture. Therefore, his outgoing personality is the result of many factors like, his environment, relationships with family members, non-family peers, and etc. He was described as, “very outgoing and friendly with new people”, having “several good friends and gets invited to parties”, and “one of the most outgoing and popular seniors at the school.
” I tried to choose answers that introduced Chase to new situations and people. Consequently, nurture also played a significant role in shaping Chase’s outgoing temperament. In conclusion, my previous thoughts about the influence of nature vs. nurture on human development go unchanged. As mentioned above, both aspects of our ‘self’ are complimentary. Just like we are unable to understand shape without the context of form. The only change that may have occurred from the Virtual Child program is the reinforcement of my initial understanding of nature vs. nurture.
Subject: Human nature,
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 13 November 2016
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